Blake’s debut collection of poetry and photography quietly pleases the eye and ear.
Striking black-and-white photos make up half of this impressive first book—a close-up of two horses’ heads, fence posts punctuating a snowy field, an assembly of terns in flight. The landscapes draw on the eloquence of linear forms in human-built environments: a stone jetty growing fainter as it stretches out into the water or the parallel tracks of an old road nearly converging in the distance, overgrown by grass and flanked by two trees. Short, complementary lyric poems, like “The Knowing Path” and “Divided,” appear opposite the images. Occasionally, the relationship between the photographs and poems is direct, as in a coupling about a cat. Minxie, as the speaker calls her, refuses to come in for a drink of milk: “she always declines, responding in / her superior silent eloquence, / I am quite happy here, where I remain.” Allowed to exist in her own space, this feline enjoys rooftop dominion. Sometimes, the relationship of image to art is oblique. A startlingly vivid portrait of raccoons feeding at a pond’s edge, for example, faces a small poem about the “constant upkeep of our love,” where the mantra of “I love you” fosters love but limits selfhood. A close-up of a porcupine, its quills rhyming with the surrounding spiky grass, points to a personal, bristling poem about a six-year relationship. The speaker’s previous “determination / to stay in the middle of you and me” is now possibly faltering. Overall, the poems celebrate lifting up, opening out, starting anew. While the photographs resonate more than the verses, the poems’ thematic expansiveness is a virtue.
Youthful and wise, this is the work of an artist poised to continue in both mediums.